9 disappointing kick-ass women movies

In my continuing quest to find media that prominently feature kick-ass women, I have come across examples of such that well…haven’t measured up. In some of these, a potentially kick-ass character was disappointingly wimpy. Or the actor/actress couldn’t pull off the role convincingly. In others, the movie was not great. In still other cases, the movie just plain sucked. Here’s the list of my biggest disappointments. As with previous lists, movies are ordered by year produced/released. With one big exception: I’m saving my all-time biggest disappointment for the end of the list.

9 kick-ass women movies I hoped would be better:

  1. …coming up at the end of the post…
  2. Cutthroat Island (1995)
    I really want to like this movie, and it has its moments. Geena Davis plays a pirate. How cool is that? Lots of action, fight scenes, chase scenes, etc. And Geena Davis plays a pirate. But somehow, unfortunately, it’s just not that good a movie. But Geena Davis plays a pirate!
  3. The Fifth Element (1997)
    I remember looking forward to this one, since I’ve liked Besson’s other movies, and since it appeared to prominently feature a kick-ass woman. I saw it in the theater. However, I found the movie to be generally pretty forgettable. (As in, at this point, I don’t remember much beyond some bright colors and some irritation with Bruce Willis.)
  4. Star Wars: Episode I – the Phantom Menace (1999)
    This movie disappointed so many in so many ways. One of the ways in which it disappointed me was that I thought there was an opportunity for Natalie Portman to kick some ass. I was unimpressed. (And things just got worse in Episode II…)
  5. Rush Hour 2 (2001)
    Another movie I don’t remember too well. This one has Zhang Ziyi, playing a kick-ass villainous type. Problem is, she seems pretty unstrung, from what I remember. And of course, she’s not the star, so her character doesn’t get to win.
  6. Tomb Raider (2001)
    While Angelina Jolie did kick ass moderately well in this, the movie was pretty weak overall. I do remember a few cool fight scenes. I should probably give it another chance.
  7. Daredevil (2003)
    Another movie I really wanted to like. Probably because of Kevin Smith‘s involvement, as well as being a comic book/superhero movie. But let’s face it. Ben Affleck is just not convincing as a superhero. But Jennifer Garner kicked ass as Elektra in spite of things. At least in the fight scenes.
  8. Underworld (2003)
    I loved Kate Beckinsale in Cold Comfort Farm (one of my all-time favorite movies, though not in the kick-ass woman genre). However, this movie was…well…not great. And Kate was not terribly convincing in an action role.
  9. Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003)
    I’m not sure what was going on with this movie. I found the first one entertaining and funny. This one just pained me.

And here it is. My all time biggest disappointment in a movie in the kick-ass women category:

  1. The Avengers (1998)
    How could they???

To say that The Avengers (1998) movie disappointed me would be like saying Everest is a pretty big mountain. That eating the chicken salad sandwich you left in your car all one hot July day may lead to stomach upset. That the Hindenberg disaster was the result of an unfortunate mishap. What I’m saying is that this movie was a gigantic, mountainous gut-spewing fireball of a disaster.

Okay, perhaps I exaggerate. In that my expectations were pretty low, so I supposed the disappointment level couldn’t have been that extreme. But please understand that I love the Avengers show, at least in its 1965-1967 incarnation. That I have idolized the character Emma Peel, as portrayed by Diana Rigg, since my formative teenage years.

This movie had a variety of “flaws” (Ralph Fiennes’ cardboard performance as Steed, the inclusion of the character “Mother,” Sean Connery’s unconvincing role as a megavillain, to name a few), which could have been overlooked if only the portrayal of the character Emma Peel had been appropriately…like Emma Peel. But she just wasn’t. Uma didn’t cut it.

I actually got a fair amount of enjoyment, after I saw the movie, just from ranting about how many things they got wrong. Believe it or not, I want to watch it again. So that I can relive those rants, and perhaps share them here.

12 thoughts on “9 disappointing kick-ass women movies

  1. If you want films about women who kick ass –
    how about Chocolate or Pieces of April?
    The Trouble With Harry
    Logan’s Run
    Monster House
    Harry Potter
    Da Vinci Code
    They aren’t literally ass-kicking – but their characters are pretty awesome.

    Or…I heard Foxy Boxing was back on… :)

  2. How about “The Long Kiss Goodnight?”

    Geena Davis is a super bad ass woman in that movie (maybe she was just channeling her co-star’s powers [Sam Jackson]). Worth the rental if you haven’t seen it and are desperately looking for a bad-ass woman character.

  3. hobbylobby-
    Thanks for the leads. The only one of those I’ve seen is Harry Potter. You talkin’ ’bout Hermione? Or am I forgetting someone?

    Good call. But no need for me to rent “The Long Kiss Goodnight”! It’s one of the more frequently viewed DVDs in my collection, and is one of my all-time favorites in the kick-ass women movie genre. (And while Samuel Jackson also totally kicked ass in that movie, I give Geena Davis credit for her own kick-assedness.)

  4. Hi Alejna —

    Don’t want to steal your thunder or limelight but was wondering: Would you like me to write up a list of “kick-ass women” movies over on my blog? The thing is that there are quite a few films I think I could recommend to you that I’m almost certain that you’ve yet to check out; only they’re from Asia and might not be readily available in “regular” American video stores… :S

    And re RUSH HOUR: A rule of thumb with Jackie Chan movies is that JC doesn’t tend to allow women to upstage him, especially in the action department. The one major exception is Michelle Yeoh in POLICE STORY III: SUPERCOP. But as far as the others are concerned: As an example, just compare Brigitte Lin in POLICE STORY I to Brigitte Lin in, say, PEKING OPERA BLUES, THE BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR or SWORDSMAN II (and III) and I think you’ll see full well what I mean re this.

  5. Hi YTSL–

    I’d absolutely love to see a list of kick-ass women movies from you! I’d especially love to hear about which are your favorites. (Though I think I know of a few of them! A few with Brigitte Lin, for example…)

    I do have a few more Hong Kong movies in my DVD collection that I haven’t listed yet, mostly because I don’t know them as well. It’s been a few years since I’ve watched them. I have a few more Michelle Yeoh movies, for example, like “Butterfly & Sword,” “Magnificent Warriors,” “Royal Warriors,” “Easy Money” and “Yes, Madam.” (At least those are the English titles.) Can you tell I’m a big fan of Michelle Yeoh? And she’s from your neck of the woods. I also have a couple of Moon Lee movies that I don’t remember being terribly impressed with, but that may have been due to overall film/production quality.

    Anyhow, I am nearing the end of my lists for movies that I’ve seen or heard about so far. And I’ll be venturing into the realm of TV soon. And then the plan is to start reviewing them in more detail. I actually (academic geek that I am) plan to code and score them on a variety of criteria. I hope you’ll contribute then, too!

    Interesting point about Jackie Chan. I hadn’t thought much about that point, but you’re right, “Supercop” (as I know it) does seem pretty exceptional as far as having the women seriously kick-ass. And Michelle Yeoh totally stole the show in that one! (I don’t know how many times I’ve watched that scene in the restaurant, where she jumps in with the flying kicks to rescue JC and company. I bet you know the scene I mean.)

    And clearly, I need to put more Brigitte Lin movies on my queue to watch!

  6. “I’d absolutely love to see a list of kick-ass women movies from you!”

    Okay. Go here then:-

    Enjoy? I hope so! :)

    “Can you tell I’m a big fan of Michelle Yeoh?”

    I started off that way too. But, truly, the cool thing about Hong Kong cinema is discovering that there are lots more strong women in its movies than those played by Michelle Yeoh — who, yep, is a fellow Malaysian ;) — alone. :)

    A question: Where are you getting your Asian movies from? Do you buy from on-line sources or…? Also, here’s taking the opportunity to highly recommend that you go for the Asian versions of the movies whenever you can because a lot of the American versions are not only English dubbed but also cut.

  7. YTSL–
    You sure do work fast! It’s a great list, too. I’ll come visit it again soon.

    Hong Kong cinema does seem to have a wealth in this area. Even beyond Michelle Yeoh. (Though I still expect to stay a fan.) My problem has been finding the right movies, as well as access. I’ve gotten most of my Asian movies online. (I actually live out in the boonies, and our local video stores don’t have many foreign films in general.) I was at it more a few years ago, and used a couple of websites that may no longer exist, and some Amazon. I’m hoping Netflix will be of help in tracking some down. Interesting point about the American versions. In fact, my copy of Supercop is dubbed.

  8. “You sure do work fast!”

    Tee hee hee! But, really, this last entry was easy to write because I’ve thought of this topic for ages already!

    “Hong Kong cinema does seem to have a wealth in this area.”

    Absolutely — and all the more so if you include women who kick ass figuratively as well as literally! (To elaborate: the last decade has seen a dearth of action movies in general in Hong Kong but not movies in which women have leading roles.)

    “My problem has been finding the right movies, as well as access. I’ve gotten most of my Asian movies online.”

    When I lived in Philadelphia, I had problems getting Hong Kong films at local video stores. So, first, I resorted to going to Chinatown and then, when the really good video stores there went out of business one by one, went for buying from online video stores that are based in Hong Kong itself. (Believe it or not, if you buy in bulk — i.e., a minimum of 3 DVDs at a time — it may come out to be cheaper than American DVDs, even with express mail factored into the equation.)

    “In fact, my copy of Supercop is dubbed.”

    I figured from your referring to that movie as SUPERCOP rather than its original title of POLICE STORY III: SUPERCOP. Incidentally, SUPERCOP is unusual in having the leads (Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh) dub themselves. Usually, it’s just some unknown/bad dubbers doing the English dubbing. But you might like to know that SUPERCOP also is a few minutes and scenes shorter than POLICE STORY III: SUPERCOP. Nothing major that would get you completely riled up though — unlike with the American versions of other movies.

  9. Just remembered Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
    Is that already on your list?

    anyway, that’s full of flying women kicking ass :)

  10. I too was a HUGE fan of “The Avengers” as a teenager and was so bitterly disappointed with the movie that I had to leave the theater midway through.

  11. Susan-
    It’s nice to hear from a fellow (real) Avengers fan! I hope to write more about the show at some point down the line.

    As for the 1998 movie, I, myself, watched the whole appallingly bad thing, mostly out of sick fascination. And for ranting fodder. (And possibly in hopes that it would somehow redeem itself in the end.) Of course, I’m not sure I’ve ever actually walked out of a movie…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s